Bobby Boris Pickett

June 11, 2024  By Jukebox 

What Made Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett A Cult Favourite?

When you think of music icons, legends like Elvis and The Beatles might spring to mind. But when October rolls around, there’s one unmissable voice on the airwaves: Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett. His single ‘Monster Mash’ became an anthem as synonymous with Halloween as jack-o’-lanterns and treats.

Read on and celebrate rock, country and pop’s golden years with Jukebox Saturday Night. Revive the spirits of rock’s past, from Mama Cass to Johnnie Ray and keep those memories alive with us. This time, we’re talking about the Crypt-kicking Transylvania Twisting King himself, Bobby Pickett.


Early life and career inception

Born for the stage

Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett was not born into the stage he would later claim for himself. Raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, Pickett’s initial aspirations led him away from music and instead towards acting. His first taste of performing came from movie house matinees, where he honed his notable Boris Karloff impersonation – a skill that would later set the stage for his leap into stardom.

Venturing into music

It was in Hollywood that he stumbled upon a vibrant music community that helped foster his talents. He began exploring his musical prowess by joining The Cordials, a vocal group known for their novelty songs, where he used his acting skills to deliver captivating performances. 

Indeed, Pickett’s transition into music was no ordinary shift but a union of his passion for acting and his newfound love for musical expression. The influence of his early acting experience and love of horror movies into music played an instrumental role in the creation of the eerily charming smash hit that would forever cement him in popular culture history.


Success Story: ‘Monster Mash’

Creation of ‘Monster Mash’

When you hear the opening chords of ‘Monster Mash’, it’s impossible not to crack a smile. This tune, filled with Halloween novelty, is a quirky anthem that has boogied its way into the hearts of mischief-makers worldwide. 

At its heart was Bobby Pickett’s one-of-a-kind style – a combination of his spot-on impersonations of horror actors mixed with a catchy pop sensibility. The song, which is credited as ‘Bobby (Boris) Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers’ was written by Pickett and Leonard Capizzi. They conjured up a swinging monster bash that’s become as iconic as pumpkin pie.

Impact and success

Released in August 1962, ‘Monster Mash’ took the pop world by storm, shimmying its way to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 just in time for Halloween. Within mere weeks of its debut, Pickett’s creation dominated radio.

But the magic of ‘Monster Mash’ didn’t stop after its initial success. This graveyard smash made a triumphant return to the charts in the 1970s and the 2020s, proving its enduring appeal with appearances in 1970, 1973, 2021 and 2023.

Beyond the charts, the song crossed over into pop culture, popping up in movies and TV specials while earning itself a permanent spot on Halloween playlists everywhere, even today, over a half-century later. Suffice it to say, the track’s impact on mass culture was phenomenal.


Cult status acquired

Recipe for longevity

Even for masters of their craft, creating a cult classic is like capturing lightning in a bottle. Bobby Pickett’s ‘Monster Mash’ is the perfect storm of these elements. With its cheeky play on the macabre set to a poppy beat, it struck a chord that resonated through the ages, earning it a spot in the pantheon of cult hits.

This was no overnight phenomenon. The track continued to simmer through decades, picked up by new generations and niche subcultures, each finding joy in its campy brilliance. For every new wave of listeners discovering ‘Monster Mash’, the song was an invitation to a whimsical, eerie party that refused to end, making Pickett an icon of quirky tunes in the process.

Fanbase and niche appeal

A pivotal part of maintaining cult status, of course, rests with the fans. Pickett’s oddball hit found its fan base among lovers of the strange and whimsical. It became an anthem in the horror fandom, creating a distinctive niche appeal that kept it relevant even amidst changing music trends. It’s no coincidence that ‘Monster Mash’ spikes in popularity every year around Halloween.

Pickett owed much of his long-term success to a devoted fanbase that appreciated the novelty of his timeless Halloween hit. In the end, Bobby Pickett’s masterstroke wasn’t just creating a hit; it was birthing a cultural artefact that, against the odds, turned a groovy little ghost story into tradition.


Beyond the ‘Monster Mash’

Additional Works

After the runaway success of ‘Monster Mash’, Pickett didn’t rest on his laurels. He dove deeper into the world of novelty tunes, rolling out tracks like ‘Werewolf Watusi’ and ‘Monster’s Holiday’. Pickett’s knack for blending catchy rhythms with tongue-in-cheek horror became his trademark.

His passion for the eerie and the amusing wasn’t confined to vinyl. Pickett brought his distinctive comedic flair and love of horror themes to the silver screen with roles in films like Monster Mash: The Movie. His transition from the recording studio to the movie set allowed him to explore the full scope of his creative talents.

Contribution to Music Industry

Pickett left a lasting imprint on the music industry. By proving that there was a place in popular music for the fantastical and the humorous, Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett demonstrated that true musical innovation often comes from the most unexpected places.

His whimsical, horror-themed compositions opened the door to a new style of musical storytelling. This genre-bending approach brought a fresh perspective to a scene often dominated by more serious themes.

Pickett’s success paved the way for future Halloween-themed songs. It’s no wonder that charts regularly feature spooky hits like ‘Monster Mash’ alongside Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and Andrew Gold’s ‘Ghostbusters’. His legacy is a reminder that sometimes, the best way to make a lasting impact is to simply have fun with it.

Key Points to Remember

  • Early life. Originally aspiring to be an actor, Pickett was raised in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he developed his famous Boris Karloff impersonation.
  • Creation of ‘Monster Mash’. Collaborating with Leonard L. Capizzi, Pickett combined his Karloff impersonation and pop sensibilities to create this hit song.
  • Chart Success. ‘Monster Mash’ topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962, quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon.
  • Cult Status. ‘Monster Mash’ achieved cult status, embraced by new generations and niche subcultures for its campy, whimsical style.
  • Beyond ‘Monster Mash’. Pickett continued to explore novelty music and even ventured into film, further solidifying his mark in entertainment.

Jukebox Saturday Night is your music time machine, showcasing rare video clips from the golden era of rock and pop music. We transport listeners back in time to celebrate the nostalgic charm of timeless tunes.

Previous Article
Bob Welch
Next Article
Bobby Bloom

More Story
Bob Welch 4 Essential Tracks By Bob Welch You Need To Hear Have you ever found yourself entranced by the raw energy of the Back in black...